Johannesburg – Checkmate! No ways! Checkmate means over, finito! The king is dead! And in this case, very far from it.
This week has been more like … “your move”.
This chess game is still very much on! It has been going for years.
Not even close.
It has been building up to this moment all along.
The long-deceased and first-ever chess player to be awarded the title of international grandmaster, Savielly Tartakower, put it succinctly when he quipped: “Tactics is knowing what to do when there’s something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.”
And our skillful player has been perfecting his strategy for ages.
It is unfolding. Today, he will make his move.
Writing in a column about our infamous player – his many trials and tribulations and his renowned chess wit – head of politics and governance at the Institute of Race Relations Gareth van Onselen quoted him as saying this about the board game: “Chess has a lot of calculating moves, quite helpful even these days … “You have got to sit back and think, so that your move, your action must be emerging from thinking, calculating, looking at advantages and disadvantages, misleading your opponent to think that you are moving this way and that you are moving that way. It’s an interesting thing.”
In December 2019, when reports that he was ill and therefore couldn’t even make it to the Hill on Empire in Parktown, Johannesburg to answer some serious questions of national importance at a meeting chaired by his “friend”, the elder was well enough to attend the 11th edition of an annual chess tournament – his brainchild and eponymously named – to congratulate winners. He was a picture of health. Chess is, indeed, life! He is a great supporter and advocate for the game, even urging youngsters to take up the board game.
He said: “Chess improves the mind to the extent that one develops better skills and strategies in life and keeps the mind healthy.”
He said this about chess when speaking to Van Onselen: “If you are playing chess, you won’t see how the day has moved … looking at new moves, reading, studying the mind of the opponent, anticipating what move they might take to counter yours and what will be your move.
“How to capture the king – because that’s the major thing, how to capture the king – you can capture the king without taking any piece, if you are clever, but at times people play until there are very few pieces left on the board.
“At times, they don’t call that checkmate, they call it stalemate!” It is his move …
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